Melbourne Vixens defender Julie Corletto has plenty to live up to in the trans-Tasman grand final on Sunday.
Corletto, 25, has to match her pro basketballer husband Daryl Corletto, who won the NBL title with the New Zealand Breakers last season. She also wants to win on the stage which matters most - at Hisense Arena in the heart of her home city.
The Vixens face New Zealand's Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, which has won 11 straight games to get into the grand final.
''It's been such a hard and physical season so to have a grand final in our home state is awesome,'' Corletto said yesterday.
From the outside, the Corlettos would appear to have conflicted feelings about the game, with Daryl making his living in Auckland and Julie plying her trade in Melbourne.
But that couldn't be further from the truth, as both are proud Victorians, with Daryl forced to take his talents to New Zealand after the Tigers released him to fit Olympic star Patty Mills into their roster.
Julie said her husband was the self-appointed organiser of the ''Men of the Vixens''.
''He still loves the Vixens,'' Julie said. ''He is getting together a lot of the husbands and boyfriends to make some noise in the crowd. He did a similar thing at the world championships last year, although they got in trouble for the horns they brought in.''
While the Vixens have received plenty of attention in the lead-up to the grand final, the players have made it clear they would love for their sport to become big enough to allow them to play as full-time professionals. A majority of Vixens hold jobs while also playing and training.
Corletto works as a replacement teacher and junior coach, although this week she wasn't planning on spending any time in the classroom.
''It would be great to be full-time like the Hawthorn [AFL] players we did some media with on Monday, but we are not there yet,'' she said.
In the off-season, Corletto may not get much teaching time either, with Australian team commitments and time in New Zealand with her husband dominating her schedule.
''I don't do much teaching during the season; I do more sports coaching,'' she said. ''With Daryl overseas now I will be spending more time over there during my off-season.''
- Sydney Morning Herald